ISU trio headed abroad after selection for prestigious Fulbright awards

AMES, Iowa – Two Iowa State University students and one recent graduate will travel abroad after they were selected for the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

The Fulbright awards, announced this month, give grants to participants who wish to pursue graduate studies, conduct research or teach English abroad. The three awardees accepted into the program this year with ISU connections are:

Summer Awad, a graduate student from Knoxville, Tennessee, earning a master’s of fine arts in English, will be an English teaching assistant in Morocco.

McKenna Flood, a senior from Cedar Rapids majoring in English and psychology, will be an English teaching assistant in Timor-Leste.

Katelyn Moje, a native of Pilger, Nebraska, who graduated from Iowa State in 2022 with a degree in mechanical engineering, will conduct graduate work in Finland regarding how food loss and waste contributes to climate change.

Participants meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, facilitating cultural exchange through direct interaction in the classroom, field and home. Grant lengths and dates vary by award but generally cover a period of 9-10 months.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program expands perspectives through academic and professional advancement and cross-cultural dialogue, according to the program’s website.

In partnership with more than 140 countries worldwide, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers opportunities in all academic disciplines to passionate and accomplished graduating college seniors, graduate students and young professionals.

Recipients are selected in an open, merit-based competition that considers leadership potential, academic and/or professional achievement, and record of service. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government.

The program is administered at Iowa State through the Nationally Competitive Awards office. ISU students work with an ISU committee to write an essay and complete an application, which is then reviewed by a Fulbright selection committee. Applications approved by the campus group then move onto a national screening committee composed of scholars in the United States to determine which candidates become semifinalists. Semifinalists are reviewed by commissions in each host country for final selection.

It's a highly competitive process, and ISU students spend up to eight weeks in the summer crafting their applications, said John Milstead, coordinator of nationally competitive awards. Milstead praised the high quality of this year’s ISU Fulbright applicants. In addition to the three selected for awards, two others were named alternates, which are candidates who can be promoted to finalist status if additional funding becomes available or another finalist decides not to pursue the award. That means five of the six semifinalists from Iowa State either received a grant offer or were named alternates.

“That shows the quality of the applicants. The quality of work each one proposed to do, whether that’s graduate study or English teaching, it’s one of the best applicant pools I’ve worked with,” Milstead said.

ISU students and recent alumni interested in applying for the program can find more information at Applications are open and the campus deadline is Sept. 6.